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Dewey, DelDOT hope paint will improve safety, parking

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Measures taken to reduce speeds entering town and mark parking areas

Pedestrians and people trying to park in Dewey could have it a little easier this year thanks to a street painting initiative by town and state transportation officials.

"We want to make it safer for pedestrians and clearer for visitors where they can and can't park," said Town Manager Marc Appelbaum. "We have an obligation to do that."

Town and Delaware Department of Transportation officials have been working on ways to improve pedestrian safety since they met in December.

During the hours-long meeting, DelDOT Chief Traffic Engineer Mark Luszcz said, that during the decade from 2005 to 2014, there were 11 crashes involving pedestrians, eight crashes involving cyclists and no deaths in Dewey. He described those numbers as surprisingly low, but he said DelDOT was willing to work with the town.

"We've been told we can take the lead if we want something done on Route 1, as long as we have DelDOT's blessing," said Appelbaum during a recent interview. The most noticeable pedestrian safety measure is a series of short white lines painted in increasingly smaller intervals on Route 1 as drivers enter town limits from the north and the south. Called a speed reduction measure, Brian Clarke, DelDOT traffic studies engineer and overseer of the project, said the lines are designed to reduce vehicle speed because the lines will be coming faster as drivers move closer toward the main strip of town. It's kind of an optical illusion, he said, while watching the crew paint the lines a couple of weeks ago.

Clarke said this is the third set of these lines painted in the state — there's another set in Sussex County and one in Kent County — and the first applied to areas where cars are coming off straight aways. He said the typical application is in the lead-up to curves in the road with limited visibility. DelDOT isn't just painting the lines and crossing their fingers. These speed reduction measures are going to be tested to see if they work, said Clarke. Radar was taken in the weeks before the lines were put down, he said, and there will be radar taken in the weeks and months moving forward to see if there was an immediate reduction in speed, and to see if the improvement is long-lasting. "We wanted to see if these lines can be utilized for other tangent sections," said Clarke, using industry speak to describe a straight section of roadway.

As for parking, for weeks town staff has been hard at work painting and marking the beach block, and workers will move on to the bay blocks when weather allows.

A quick drive through town reveals bright yellow lines around corners coming off Route 1 and in front of fire hydrants that in many cases sit 15 to 20 feet back from the pavement.

"The main idea is to mark areas where people should be parking more clearly," said Mayor Diane Hanson. "It can be a challenge in Dewey though, because in some of those places there's sand on the street." Moving forward, Appelbaum said there will still be work to do when the marking of the corners, fire hydrants and other areas is complete. He said the town is still working with DelDOT to figure out exactly what the town and the state are responsible for in terms of maintenance. There needs to be a clarification on what the state, town and county are responsible for, Appelbaum said.

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Original Publication Date: April 29, 2016

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